shorthand difficulties for beginner

I have been interested in shorthand for a very long time, and have tried to learn various versions since I was about 10 years old.  However, every time I try to learn one of the versions of Gregg, I run into conceptual difficulties.  Even though many of the rules are spelled out and are clear, there are many cases that just completely stump me and make me think that the system is at least somewhat arbitrary (or at least not well-defined).  Ok here are some examples:

1. R omitted--"In many words containing ar, er, ir, as in the words large, serve, warm, ..., the r is omitted."  OK.  Great. But how am I supposed to know which "many words" these are?  Am I supposed to memorize a dictionary to find out?  What is the rule that governs whether it is omitted or not?  It suggests that you drop a sound that is not stressed in speaking, but I stress all of these r's and to me the "r" in large is no different than the "r" in barn (which is not omitted). 
2. I run into the same difficulty again with omission of t.  "When slightly enunciated, t is omitted at the end of many words."  Well, are there some words in which t is not omitted after s, k, p, etc?? 
3. "When slightly enunciated, d is often omitted."  Again, often means what exactly?
4. When the anniversary manual says, "s in ser, cer, sar...may be written contrary to the usual method" does this mean that the "s" is definitely or "may be" written that way at the discretion of the writer?

1. In the simplified manual, it says "the d is omitted from the following words..."  Are these the only words in which d is omitted or is it trying to suggest that d can be omitted in analogous contexts?
2. This one totally stumped me:  In both Anniversary and Simplified, sought is written with one smooth joining of the s, o, and t.  I can see how this flows, I guess, but does this apply for words like "fought" and "vote?"  It doesn’t seem to be the case.  And when r is omitted in "sort" then for some strange unexplainable reason, the t is now not one smooth motion from the "o."  I can imagine that one might say, "well, by joining the t differently in sort and sought, one can differentiate the two words." Fine.  But how am I supposed to know how many words I need to "differentiate" while I'm writing?  And how would one write the word "shot?"  With a smooth o-t join or not?  How would I know this without having to consult someone?
3.  Why is the circle inside the shorthand for "chair," but not inside the form for a word like "pan?"  In both cases there is a straight line and a curve.  I don't see how they differ, except for a rotation difference and the slight angle of the "ch." 

1. Why is the "r" in "offer" written without a smooth "fr" connection, but all other "fr" words are?  It also seems as if this non-smooth "fr" occurs when the f and the r belong to different syllables, but there doesn’t seem to be any rule for this in any of the manuals that I have. 
2.  Obscure vowel.  "The small circle also represents the obscure vowel sound heard in her, firm, church."  Therefore the word major has a circle between j and r.  However, the obscure vowel in girl, the syllable "per," general, several, chamber, and others do not have the circle.  Why oh why??

These are just some of the difficulties I have had with Gregg theory.  Don't get me wrong...I really want to like Gregg but I also really want a system that is internally consistent so that there is one way to write the form of a word that I have in mind and I don't have to guess (or look up in a dictionary) what that form would be if I were to know all the rules.  Perhaps I am just missing something very basic.  I would appreciate any help!


(by thousandwaves for everyone)